BROTTON: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.


Wapentake of Langbaurgh (East Division) - Poor Law Union of Guisborough - County Court District of Stokesley - Petty Sessional Division of Langbaurgh East - Rural Deanery of Guisborough - Archdeaconry of Cleveland - Diocese of York.

This parish lies between Skelton and the coast, and includes the townships of Brotton, Kilton, and Skinningrove, covering an area of 4,105 acres. Much of the surface is of an upland character, richly wooded in some places, and rising on the coast into bold cliffs. The soil is a hard clay, occasionally of good quality, and well cultivated; but the chief wealth lies in the rich seams of ironstone beneath. Brotton was formerly ecclesiastically united with Skelton, from which it was severed in 1868, and made a separate parish. The inhabitants in 1881 numbered 5,959, but at present there are only between 3,000 and 4,000.

The township comprises 2,291 acres, and contains the villages of Brotton, New Brotton, Old Saltburn, and part of Carlinhow. The development of the ironstone mines within the last generation has added very materially to the wealth and prosperity of the township, the rateable value of which has increased from £2,176 in 1859, to £22,415 in 1888. The land is chiefly the property of the trustees of the late Thomas Hutchinson, Esq.; A. L. Maynard, Newton Hall, Durham; the trustees of W. H. Barrow, Esq. (these are joint lords of the manor); Miss Jackson, and John Rigg, Esq., Glenside, Saltburn.

The manor of Brotton was included among those granted by the Conqueror to Robert de Brus, Lord of Skelton, from whom it passed by marriage to Marmaduke de Thweng, and subsequently, by the marriage of an heiress of this family, to Sir Robert de Lumley. John, Lord Lumley, his descendant, was one of the chief actors in the Pilgrimage of Grace, but was pardoned, and soon afterwards his only son, George, engaging in another conspiracy with Lord Darcy, Sir Thomas Percy, and others, was executed for high treason. This estate was forfeited to the Crown, and since that time the lands have been sold out in parcels, which have passed through various families to the present proprietors.

The village of Brotton, written by the scribes of Domesday Book Broctune, that is the town on the brough or hill, is seated on an eminence six miles N.E. of Guisborough, commanding extensive views of the surrounding country. It has grown with the development of the ironstone mining of the neighbourhood, and has now attained the dimensions of a small town, with its churches, chapels, and public institutions.

Brotton had its church at an early period, probably in Saxon times. It was dedicated to St. Margaret, and was parochially independent. The very plain building which now occupies the site was erected in 1741, in a debased style of architecture, and nothing remains of the previous edifice except a cruciform gravestone in the churchyard, probably that of an early rector. This has been mutilated by the removal of a Saxon ornament, well known to archaeologists, but it still bears traces of work that must have been executed upwards of seven hundred years ago. Of the fabric of the church there is little to be said. The windows are round headed, and the east one is a memorial of Robert Morrison, Esq., of Brotton Grange. The Communion plate was the very valuable gift of William Tullie, Esq., Kilton Castle, who married Ann, sole daughter and heiress of Thomas Thweng, of Kilton Castle. The Registers date from 1653.

A new church is now in course of erection, at the sole cost of Miss Jackson, of Hunley Hall. The style selected is the Perpendicular Gothic; the stone is from the neighbouring quarries; and, when completed, the edifice will be seated for 500 worshippers. The living is a new vicarage in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and worth, according to the Diocesan Calendar, £300, with £100 for a curate. The present incumbent is the Rev. James Bell, M.A.

The Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Bible Christians have places of worship in the village. There are excellent schools, providing accommodation for upwards of 700 children. Brotton has also its Music Hall (licensed also for theatrical performances), erected in 1873, at a cost of £700. Brotton Institute, formerly the Good Templars' Hall, contains reading and recreation rooms, but is open to members only. Cleveland Cottage Hospital was erected in 1874, by Messrs. Bell Brothers, and was at first solely supported by them; but its sphere of usefulness has since been extended, and the several proprietors of the neighbouring mines now contribute to its maintenance. There is accommodation for 17 patients, and during the last year 75 persons received the benefits of the the institution. It is under the care of the Sisters of the Holy Rood, from North Ormesby.

Carlinhow, a considerable village, situated at the junction of the townships of Brotton, Kilton, and Loftus, has sprung into existence since the opening of the iron mines. It contains two Nonconformist chapels, a railway station, an inn, and several shops.

Old Saltburn, as it has been called since the rise of its fashionable namesake, is a small picturesque village, reduced to some half dozen cottages and an inn, on the beach, and hemmed in and hidden from the outer world by Huntcliffe (336 feet) and the curious conical hill called Catnab. In bygone days the inhabitants had an evil reputation for smuggling, and its secluded situation, with glens and hills around, made it particularly adapted for carrying on a trade in contraband goods. In still earlier times this sequestered nook was the site of a hermitage, founded by Roger de Argentum, about A.D. 1215, but every vestige of this has long disappeared.

KILTON township contains 1723 acres, of which about 1,556 acres are under assessment; rateable value, £8,200; population, 431. The manor of Kilton, the Chiltune of Domesday Book, was granted, with Skelton, to the De Brus family, from whom it passed, in marriage, to the Thwengs and the Lumleys. About the middle of last century it was purchased by an ancestor of J. T. Wharton, Esq., Skelton Castle, the present owner, who is also the principal landowner.

Kilton Castle, now a mouldering ruin, stands on the crest of a knoll, whose base is laved by a rapid mountain torrent. It exhibits fine specimens of Norman architecture, and is supposed to have been built by Robert de Brus, about the same period as Skelton Castle, viz., the reign of King Stephen. "As a fortress," says Ord, in his History of Cleveland, "it must have proved impregnable previous to the introduction of artillery; being placed on a high jutting eminence, surrounded by steep precipices, except to the west, where the ditches, foss, inner vallum, and traces of the barbican gate are distinctly observable. The summit of the promontory, 300 feet long and 60 broad, terminating in a narrow projecting ridge, is guarded by strong walls, still remaining. The entrance to the castle from the west is clearly indicated by an ancient road, tolerably perfect, although a portion has been torn up, the large stones being heaped up as we approached. The barbican, ramparts, and other outworks have disappeared; but the position of the great entrance gate may be easily traced, defended by deep ditches, one of which extends 100 feet in length, and measures 26 feet across. It is to be lamented that this noble ruin is not guarded with greater vigilance * Large portions of the stone facings have been hacked, hewed, and violently wrenched from the cement, by barbarians in the neighbourhood, for the purpose of repairing walls, and building byres, barns, and pigstyes. Still, at the western extremity, we trace the grand banquetting hall, 60 feet long by 59 broad, where the fair Norman damsels and their gallant lovers made night harmonious with dancing, minstrelsy, and song. Still we behold the dismal dungeons, where the poor captives pined in unutterable despair (for, as in Dante's Inferno, those who entered that massive doorway bade farewell to hope); and still we gaze on the huge eastern watch tower, with its impenetrable walls, its small iron-barred windows, its narrow merlons, with chinks and gillots, where the keen bowmen peered on the advancing foe, or dealt out death on the enemies of their chief. Altogether, Kilton Castle must have proved the most powerful baronial fortress in Cleveland, and during the comparatively harmless days of crossbows, broad swords, and battle-axes, quite impregnable."

* The ruins are now strictly preserved, and no one is permitted to view them without first obtaining an order from the Skelton Estate Office, Saltburn.

Kilton Castle does not appear to have played any conspicuous part in the great stirring events of mediaeval history. It was the chief seat of the Thwengs, and here was born, in 1279, Lucia, the fair but frail daughter of Robt de Thweng.

Kiltonthorpe is a village built, within the last 30 years, for the accommodation of the workmen employed at the Kilton iron mines, but since the closing of the works is now almost deserted.

SKINNINGROVE, or, as it is sometimes written, Skinningrave, is a small township of 171 acres, chiefly belonging to A. L. Maynard, Esq., Newton Hall, Durham, whose mother was the only daughter and heiress of John Easterby, Esq., of Skinningrove Hall. The Village is situated on the coast at the mouth of a deep and narrow ravine, through which a burn flows into the sea. Camden, in his Britannia, calls it Skengrave, and describes it as a small village which throve "by the great variety of fish which it takes." In later times, the inhabitants lived more by smuggling than fishing, until the establishment of the Preventive Service, when this illicit trading became a very risky business. The village is now chiefly inhabited by miners and ironworkers. There are chapels belonging to the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists, the former erected in 1872, at a cost of £400, and the latter in 1874, at a cost of £800; and a Miners' Institute, built by Messrs. Pease & Co., in 1875, for the benefit of the inhabitants. It is a neatly designed and well arranged structure, containing a large lecture hall, class room for science and art classes, reading room, library, with 800 volumes, and billiard room. In the wall of the entrance hall is a handsome fountain, bearing the following inscription :- "Presented by members of this institute to J. W. Pease, Esq., M.P., Edward Pease, Esq., Arthur Pease, Esq., and David Dale, Esq., as a token of esteem and gratitude for the erection of this building." On the wall around the fountain is a large bronze tablet of very artistic design, bearing in the upper part a representation, in relief, of Christ and the woman of Samaria at the well, with the words from John iv. 13, 14, and on the lower part the above inscription. Adjoining are a large recreation ground, well supplied with gymnastic apparatus, skittles, quoits, &c., and the caretaker's house. A Hospital for the treatment of cases of accident was erected by the same firm in 1871, and contains accommodation for six patients. There are also excellent schools in the village, the property of the same gentlemen, and conducted on the British or undenominational principal. They were opened in 1873, and a new infant department added in 1883. The present attendance is over 500.

Iron Mines. - As before mentioned, this parish derives its chief wealth from the vast deposit of ironstone beneath the surface. This ferruginous stratum was discovered in the valley of Skinningrove about the year 1849, and was the first indication of the great ironfield of Cleveland. About ten years later, the Lofthouse mines were commenced by Losh, Wilson, Bell, & Co., and in 1865 they were taken over by Messrs. Pease & Partners. About 750 hands are employed. The average output is 500,000 tons, but in 1881 it reached 654,000 tons. In 1872-3 two blast furnaces were erected at Skinningrove by the Loftus Iron Co., and in 1880 they were purchased by the present owners, the Skinningrove Iron Co., who are now constructing harbour works in Skinningrove Bay for the shipment of their iron ore.

The Brotton Mines are the property of Morrison & Co., who have a lease of the royalties of the late W. Jackson, Esq., G. H. Stephenson, Esq., H. S. Clarke, Esq,, and Mrs. Hutchinson. The output ranges from 1,500 to 2,000 tons per day. About 500 hands are employed.

The Cliff Mines were commenced by Bell Bros., Ltd., in 1860. The output for 1880 was 58,332 tons, but the ironstone here is now worked out. The same firm opened the Huntcliffe Mine adjacent, in 1871. It is worked by an adit drift, and the stone is won by hand mining; 100 hands are employed. Carlin How Mines, opened out by Bell Bros. in 1873, are within Mr. Wharton's royalty. The weekly output is about 3,000 tons, obtained wholly by hand mining. The number of hands employed is 150. Lumpsey Mines were commenced in 1882. The shafts are about 100 fathoms deep. Drilling machines, worked by hydraulic power, are used in winning part of the stone. About 3,000 tons per week are obtained, employing 140 men and boys.

Cragg's Hall Mines, belonging to Messrs. Pease & Partners, give employment to about 400 men and boys. The ironstone is worked from a winding shaft 240 feet deep. The output is about 4,000 tons per week.

[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890)]


  • Transcript of the entry for the Post Office, professions and trades in Bulmer's Directory of 1890.

Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.